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Jenneh Corkern: The Teenage Water Rights Activist Who is Inspiring Change in Liberia

Jenneh Corkern
Credit: seattleglobalist

Jenneh Corkern is a 17 year old Liberian orphan who has defied all odds and gone beyond her woes to carve possibilities out of seemingly impossible situations. As a teen, her heart beats for her people, especially because of the things she has suffered.

Passionate, sympathetic and focused, Jenneh has a burning desire for many things, but one always tops the list; global water issue. At first I didn’t know why, but when I eventually discovered her reason, I was humbled.

Having spent the first seven years of her life in an orphanage under very terrible conditions, Jenneh has become a voice and solution for her country youths. She remembers how she and other girls were made to sit out at night during rainy seasons to collect water from drain pipes, which they use for cooking, washing and even drinking. They often referred to it as healthy water, simply because that was a better option than trekking miles away from the orphanage to get water.

Credit: globalmediabuzz
Credit: globalmediabuzz

In 2005, luck found the little Liberian when she was adopted by a local family in the Pacific Northwest, who shortly discovered that her stomach had been infested with parasites.

10 years after, Jenneh still takes medication and adheres to a special diet designed for her troubled digestive system, but more interestingly, she has now become a water-rights activist.

To gain a wider reach, the young activist joined Teens Take Action, a Bill and Melinda Foundation program that trains youths to advocate for issues that concern them. Through the program, Jenneh collaborated with a co-trainee Grace Clipson, and together, they’ve raised $900 for Water1st international, a Seattle based not for profit organization that undertakes clean water projects in Ethiopia, Honduras, India and Bangladesh.

The duo has organized bake sales, featuring sugar cookies shaped like water droplets and penny drives. They have also created a slide show and a short video on global water issues and have gone ahead to present it to two schools, namely Kent Mountain View Academy and Holy Names Academy. Their goal is to raise about $2,500 by the coming year.


The young change agent plans to travel to her country Liberia, to help build wells and hopefully find her family.

Jenneh has endured terrible circumstances, but instead of sitting in a corner to count her woes, she is hopeful and determined to be a solution to the problems of others; a glimmer of light in the darkness of others.

She decided to become change. You too can make a difference.

Arise and be change!

Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor is a Journalist/Writer, Poet, Lawyer and God-Lover. She enjoys a good read and sees everyday as an opportunity to live and enjoy her calling whilst working towards perfecting it. She believes that someday soon, Africa will reach her full potential as the light-bearer of the world. You can find her on Twitter: @lovelyn_o

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